Since his soap days Jeff has done Broadway and a one-man show and used his talents as a comedian, singer and impressionist.
We Love Soaps caught up with Jeff this week and he explained his latest exciting adventure: a four night run at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas (May 17-20, 2012) where he will take his celebrated impressionist act and incorporate cutting edge multimedia to include interactive video productions, completely turning into the voice, face, costume and mannerisms of more than one celebrity at a time.
Jeff grew up in New York and went to high school on the Upper West Side. He was familiar with soaps because of his mother.
"I grew up watching DAYS OF OUR LIVES," he says. That was my mother's soap opera. I used to say my mother lived her life vicariously through the Horton family."
He started impersonating cartoon voices from television as a kid as well as real people he encountered.
"I was an alter boy and there was a priest named Father Timothy who had a very distinctive," he remembers before breaking out into an impression. "I ran home and told my mom that the priest whistled when he talk and did his voice for her, and she told me I wasn't supposed to make fun of people. Then the next week at mass my mother was sitting next to me and he came walking in and when she heard him during communion time she was laughing so hard. So in the future any time I would get in trouble I would say, 'The body of Christ' and she would laugh and forget to punish me."
Jeff then began doing voices as a way to make his parents laugh.
Jeff moved out to Los Angeles at age 21 after deciding to a make a go of it in the entertainment industry.
"I did a couple of shows in school, but I never anticipated a career in show business," he explains. "It was the furthest thing from my mind as a kid. But my mom was addicted to the soap operas so when I decided to move to Los Angeles my only goal was to be on a soap opera. I didn't have any goal to be in films or sitcoms. For me the pinnacle would have been to be on a soap opera. In my house the world stopped at 2 o'clock and it was all about DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
The journey from THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL to high-tech impressionist actually started during Jeff's soap days. Thorne and Macy would sing on the soap and the Jeff and Bobbie traveled all over the world doing concerts. He also honed his impressionist skills on the set.
"I was backstage doing impressions of everyone at the show, and the crew and producers," he says. "So many people said to me through the years, 'You should be in Las Vegas.' Years ago Bobbie, Jerry Douglas and I did a show at the Sands Hotel and it was the first time I got on stage and did my impressions. I really knew it was something I could do for a living. They ended up imploding the Sands later and I told Bobbie we brought the house down, literally."
Jeff took to performing live and it sent him down a new career path.
"Performing live at that point was something I found I really loved doing," he recalls. "And when I went to Broadway as Danny Zuko in Grease I was doing eight shows a week. I found that contact with a live audience was something I enjoyed. But I never thought of putting together a whole show until about six or seven years ago. I first did a one-man vehicle at the Rio and I knew I had hit paydirt."
The journey took him from Broadway to a one-man show to his latest venture.
"It's something I've been doing the past couple of years," he explains. "I had a show I created myself and was doing it at the Spa Resort & Casino in Palm Springs when John McEntee came and saw It. He produced the Terry Fator show at the Mirage Hotel. Fator won AMERICA'S GOT TALENT in 2007 and signed a $100 million contract at the Mirage, and I had just seen him on a talk show and was marveling at the deal he was able to get for himself. About a week later I get this phone call from a fellow who had been in bed with his wife in Palm Desert and watching a commercial for my show and were coming to see me the following Saturday. My agent said, 'You better be good.'"
Jeff and John had a fateful meeting which led us to Jeff's show at the Palms, a 'Journey Through Pop Culture'.
"We got together afterward and he started pitching some wondering ideas about what he could do with me," Jeff says. "For the past year and a half we've been creating this multimedia experience. The same way he redefined ventriloquism with Terry Fator's show, he's doing that with me, an impressionist, and it's really not what you expect an impressionist to be."
Multimedia allows Jeff to actually become the characters he's impersonating.
"The technology is pretty astounding," he says. "I do over 100 different voices in the show. From characters I grew up with from TV Land to Eminem and Lady GaGa and Ceelo. I morph in many different people that I'm impersonating and sometimes more than one at a time. I might become all the Black-Eyed Peas or all of N'Sync or the Backstreet Boys. "John McEntee is a visionary. We did a little taste of it back in October when I did a 30-minute set as Liza Minnelli's special guest at the Hilton. It was great fun. But this is a much bigger show and it's 75 minutes."
The video below from JeffTracta.com reveals highlights from Jeff's show of impressions, music, and comedy.
For fans that come to one of the shows starting May 17, Jeff says it will be a "multimedia experience." And BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL fans have been loyal followers.
"They come to all my shows," Jeff says fondly. "The most devoted fans. Every time I do a show it's like old home week."
Jeff feels right at home on stage these days.
"When I'm doing my show, I feel like a five year old up there, having fun and being silly," he says. "The audience goes with me. It's the most fun I've ever had."
If he could go back to his early Los Angeles days and give himself a piece of advice, Jeff says he would tell himself to "enjoy every minute of it."
"So many great things happen, but if you are like most people, you don't stay in the moment. If you just stay in the moment you will life a very happy life. I work very hard to do that and savor every great moment. And usually they're all pretty great."
For tickets to Jeff's upcoming show, visit TicketMaster.com.
Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps and is currently a producer on THE BAY and executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.